From an item about a year ago from "The Mirror," a daily British tabloid.
Two women were kicked out of a cinema for laughing out loud.
The movie they were ejected from was Absolutely Fabulous, a 2016 comedy.
Some of the details are fuzzy -- reportedly, nobody in the seats complained until theater management approached the ladies in question. Apparently, the conversation that ensued is what other movie-watchers found objectionable.
But whatever the source -- tee-hees or talking -- the din was enough to given the pair the boot. They received a set of complimentary passes on their way out. I guess the idea was to have them return for a three-hankie weepy or a terrifying horror movie, where the respective risks would be crying or screaming too loudly.
I have never been asked to leave a theater for laughing too loud. I have, however, been chided by Kristin for my enthusiastic response to big-screen funny business.
"Geez, dad! All I could hear was you going ‘HO-HO-HO! HA-HA-HA!’ It was so embarrassing!!!"
I mean, who can help it? The Pink Panther and Back to the Future and Ghostbusters are funny and do warrant an audible, appreciable response. I remember screaming in the theaters over Airplane and the Naked Gun movies. And I wasn’t alone.
I have noticed, though, that modern-day movie audiences seem to be very reticent in the way they process a movie.
I remember seeing The Little Mermaid when it came to theaters in 1989. The energy and dazzle of "Under the Sea" was so impactful as a musical number that when the last chord of the song sounded, the audience erupted in applause!
It was a beautiful demonstration of a shared experience that a theater full of total strangers was compelled, in unison, to perform an act that made no sense at all.
Think about it. Exactly who were we applauding? It certainly wasn't singers/dancers in a live show. It was, I guess, a set of animators, artists, musicians and singers who had done their work months prior.
But I got it. The sequence was so inherently theatrical that we responded theatrically.
Honestly, it was a little thrilling. It was energizing. It was nostalgic. And it was wholly appropriate.
There's something about a large auditorium full of people exploding in laughter at the same moment. It happens at concert halls and comedy clubs and professional theaters all the time.
And it used to happen in the movies, too. But not so much anymore.
I was thinking maybe it had to do with theater size, that because they're no longer the cavernous spaces that fit hundreds of people, audiences have lost the anonymity that allowed them the freedom to burst out laughing and not be ridiculed for it.
Or maybe it's people becoming more aligned with watching movies on personal devices. I don't think anyone would sit on the subway watching a comedy on their iPad and physically laugh about some screen gag.
Claire and I were discussing this and she rolled her eyes: "This isn't yet one more thing you're going to blame on Millennials, is it?"
"No," I said defensively. ".... um... Not really."
She did, however, see my point. "I'll laugh at a comedian at a club, but not in a movie."
"I don't know... I don't want to disturb anyone else."
"Well what about crying?" I asked.
"Crying can be quiet," she said. "Nobody really needs to hear it."
Maybe it has something to do with movie comedies that frankly aren't that funny. I never really appreciated the male-centric slob comedies of the 1970s and 1980s (Animal House). So the 21st century counterpart, the female-centric slob comedy (Bridesmaids), doesn't have much appeal either.
All I know is this. Should you be seated near me during a revival showing of, say, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, don't expect me to hold it in.
I will laugh.
And hope I'm not ejected from the theater.